Because Lisa Randall has released her book, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, she was interviewed by many journalists including Lila Shapiro, a Senior Staff Reporter at the left-wing megablog Huffington Post:
You can tell that Lisa was dissatisfied about this attitude and tried to convey this fact to the reporter. But the reporter didn't give a damn. It's her job to abuse science and scientists.
I haven't told you what's the question you shouldn't ask to Lisa – but HuffPo asked it, anyway:
How did you react when you heard Larry Summers' comments suggesting that women are just not suited for science and mathematics?Lisa was surprised that such questions are being asked even after almost 11 years since Larry's common-sense speech that the feminist aßholes labeled as provocative. Even Larry isn't getting such questions today, she thinks.
Randall is a prominent as well as sufficiently self-confident scientist so you may imagine how she feels when a reporter reveals this kind of a focus. She has been doing some top science, much like her top male colleagues, but a female reporter thinks that her being a woman who was close enough to Larry Summers is her most remarkable achievement! ;-)
Just to be sure, Lisa is no conservative. She often counts herself as a feminist – like most women who are allowed to become scholars in the U.S. – and believes or repeats lots of the delusions about the dangerous "climate change" (which is why you may read in the acknowledgements in her new book that my encouragement was selective). But holy cow, she is primarily an achieved scientist, not a rank-and-file left-wing activist, and just like other top scientists, male and female ones, she realizes the huge difference between these two categories. Achieved scientists are cool and precious; rank-and-file left-wing activists not so if I have to avoid the term "cr@p".
It probably wasn't possible for Lisa to talk openly about such things, especially in front of the Huffington Post reporter (and readers). But be sure that Lisa – like virtually all high-energy physicists and most physicists at Harvard – were closer to "mild" supporters of Larry Summers than to his vitriolic critics. This had some obvious reasons. Larry has been a big fan of sciences – especially in comparison with the humanity-based non-sciences and pseudosciences. This tendency was reflected in his management of Harvard University, too. He has always had much more appreciation as well as understanding for the scientific method and the scientists' dreams than his pseudoscientific critics from the "departments" of professionally whining hysterical women and blacks and similar "departments".
So I believe that on March 16th, 2005, a sad day marked by a FAS faculty meeting I attended, she voted in favor of Summers at least in one of the votes. I can't remember the detailed lists of supporters. But both resolutions passed by a 2-to-1 margin on that day. That included the simple "no confidence vote" proposed by the obnoxious black aßhole named Mr Lorand Matory (who continued to terrorize me for quite some time afterwards, while using the spineless department chair John Huth as his messenger); and perhaps more subtle but more pernicious resolution by Ms Theda Skočpol [the surname means "Jump[to]field" in Czech] who basically wanted to strip Summers and other officials of their right to think. I forgot what was the exact wording of that resolution.
OK, back to the Huffington Post.
When Randall was asked the first feminist question (basically equivalent to "Could you please whine about women in science for 10 minutes?"), she complained that these "wow, she is a woman, look!" things – including comments about the appearances – are those that are typically amplified, like in her recent NPR interview. But she doesn't focus on anything of the sort. She is excited about this work on astrophysics and the relationships with the evolution of life. And she wants both boys and girls, women and men to share the excitement.
Ms Shapiro didn't get the message so the second question was "Could you please whine about how difficult it was to become the first tenured woman at Harvard?" Needless to say, it wasn't so difficult, Lisa pointed out. She did some important and interesting enough research so she obviously was offered this job arrangement. Lisa must know that if all things are equal, being a woman is an advantage in such situations. But she didn't really need such an advantage. She's had quite an impressive publication record along with the "senior position" in two papers that remain the most popular phenomenological realization of the concept of extra dimensions. Why shouldn't she get a tenure if others, less famous people do get it? She may have faced hurdles but most people faced them, they are partly coincidental, and can't be generalized, she basically agreed with me. Other people have other hurdles.
OK, doesn't matter. Mr Shapiro asked another feminist question, anyway: "Could you please whine about how evil Larry Summers was when you are a female scientist and Larry Summers has declared those physically impossible?" At that moment, Lisa has gotten fully pissed-off, I think. She has just published a book – which took a lot of time and concentrated effort by this thinker (not to mention the dozens of hours of your humble correspondent as well LOL) but Ms Shapiro thinks that some hypothetical interactions of Lisa Randall with Larry Summers 11 years ago were more important!
The fourth question was about this stuff, too. "How did the feminist atmosphere change from the Larry Summers wars?" Well, it hasn't changed much, she argues, or she doesn't see it. Well, I believe that the situation has gradually deteriorated further and the likes of Ms Shapiro have a stronger harmful influence on science (and other activities) today than they had before January 2005. But this isn't Larry's fault.
The fifth question was: "Could you please stress how feminism is great because both you and your sister are great scientists?" So Lisa says that unlike her younger sister, she didn't grow up in a family with scientifically inclined members. Her sister was just a kid, not a scientist, at that time! But don't get Lisa wrong: her sister is absolutely brilliant now. ;-)
However, the following part of Lisa's answer is innovative. She suggested that female scientists are generally brotherless. She, Eva Silverstein, and Ann Nelson are mentioned as examples. They only have sisters.
Her specific theory is that the parents treat the daughters little bit like boys if they don't have real sons and that increases the probability that the daughter will become a scientist. Aside from Randall, Silverstein, and Nelson, the evidence doesn't seem terribly convincing. Marie Sklodowska had an older brother named Jozef, a physician. Joan Feynman had an older brother, too, a physicist. Rosalind Franklin had both an older brother and a younger brother, and so did Chien-Shiung Wu. Lise Meitner had a younger brother Walter. But yes, Vera Rubin only had a sister, albeit one in the department of defense which makes her almost male. ;-)
Doug Keenan sent me the most spectacular counterexample of all. As I have mentioned but forgot, Emmy Noether had three siblings – all of them were brothers.
The empirical support for Lisa's theory is mixed but I do find it plausible, anyway. The main reason why I do believe in this correlation is that I think that this behavior of the parents is completely sensible. If they are distributing the roles for the kids, it just makes more sense to lead the sons to science and technical fields and daughters elsewhere – because the experience indicates that this is likely to lead to better outcomes. At the end, I believe that the effect is weak because the whole influence of parents is limited. Moreover, there's no reason for different siblings to choose very different occupations. If parents find it OK for their son to become a scientist, they will usually think it's OK for the daughter, too.
The whole overall paradigm that Lisa works in – that nurture is more important than nature – is almost certainly wrong. Nevertheless, Lisa's hypothesis is an interesting one. She doesn't get harassed for those. Larry Summers has been terrorized by the feminist Gestapo for having proposed analogous hypotheses about similar issues.
Ms Shapiro asks another question: "Could you please whine about getting lousy support at the university?" Lisa makes her happy and answers that it must happen because people support people "like themselves". Now, this is patent bullšit, Lisa. For example, most marriages – and all marriages according to the conventional definition – are arrangements in which people support adults of the opposite sex, i.e. people "unlike" themselves. This obviously appears naturally outside families, too. "Potential" sexual attraction is one aspect of it; the fact that people of the opposite sex are not "competitors" in certain issues plays a role, too.
At least, Lisa agrees that the harassment against the women can't be that bad because she's been the world's most cited particle physicist in a 5-year window. It's always good to point out such facts – to say the least, the reporters interviewing Lisa should know such things and this knowledge is more important than some modesty.
There are two more questions about the feminist complaints – about the broader victimist complaints by women everywhere, and complaints by Lisa's female students (I am sure that most of her collaborators are male and she's doing great with them). I am already exhausted by this garbage and won't discuss it; if these constant complaints were as common as Ms Shapiro presents them, I would fight hard to ban women in science because she is absolutely insufferable.
But to summarize, while Lisa's comments about many things sound wrong to my ears, it seems obvious that the feminist reporter and similar activists do this nonsense at a totally different, much more pathological level – and Lisa must realize that her opinions are ultimately closer to mine than to those of Ms Shapiro. It's plausible that in certain situations, she will deny the fact because unlike the old white conservative males, the nasty politically correct ideologues actually control the U.S. Academia.